Finding a balance

Onesie on and glass of wine in hand I am welcoming a relaxing Friday night. I don’t know how long I will last but I am determined to enjoy a bit of time with my husband! Long gone are the days I enjoy a night out at the weekend but I’ve made my peace with that. 

It’s been a tough week. Many of you will know that I am currently being tested by my youngest and her stubborn sleep patterns! 4am should not be anyone’s wake up time… Despite my very best efforts she refuses to give in and something’s got to give. 
This has seemed to have coincided with mock week at work. Swimming through treacle may have been easier than it was to complete my pile of marking! 
At the end of all these events, I am exhausted. I feel guilty that I’ve been distracted and too tired to give my children the attention they deserve. In addition to that I feel agitated. 
I started Dollies when, after Bella was born, I almost became addicted to creating. While I was creating, I rediscovered a feeling of calm and peace inside. I suddenly remembered whet it was like to become so engrossed in something that hours seemed to fly by. 
Granted, my agitation, frustration and heightened emotion may have been down to sleep deprivation (I completely understand why it is a form of torture!) but I also have an inkling it may be a result of having no me time – time to connect with my other half and no time to create. 
I would never neglect my children- ever. Tell me then, why is it so easy to neglect myself? I desperately miss creating (even if I miss being creative for a day) yet I don’t plan my day/week to ensure I’ve got a balance of all things.  
While cooking dinner the other day, I sketched some ideas for a commission I’m working on. I only spent 10 minutes on it while I was waiting for some pasta to cook but the effect it had was undeniable. I felt happy, content and full of energy and ideas. 
So my pledge is to do one creative thing a day. Even if it only takes me five minutes, for my sanity and to be the best person and mother I can be, I have to find a balance in my life and treat myself with the same respect, love and kindness I give to my precious children. 
How are you looking after yourself every day? What do you make sure you do in your precious time out? 
Until next time,
Toni xx 


First challenge project

When I wrote my blog last week, I thought this challenge would involve covering cardboard boxes and upcycling tins. I never thought it would involve furniture. 
I know that by now you will most likely have seen my new purchases from the Indie Arcade located in the Nichols Building in Sheffield. Well, this weekend saw my eldest daughter going to her Grandma’s for a sleepover so my other half and I have took the opportunity to spend some quality time with the little one and organise the house – with an hours notice the new furniture was being delivered the house needed some TLC! 
Saturday saw me and my Aunty organising the kitchen; rearranging cupboard contents, storing items we don’t use but are too precious to throw away and ditching the broken things. 

The cutlery has a new place! 

At the end of our organising spree, I was wondering what to do with my mountain of cook books (I can’t resist them!) the ones I use regularly got housed in the kitchen but there were still plenty that were housed on our bookcase. The only problem was our bookcase was never great quality and was ready for firewood. 

We discussed the possibility of asking Belinda from Nanny B and Grumpy to source a new bookcase and paint it to match the other pieces but in reality we weren’t sure if it would be a good idea. One reason for this makeover is to try and cope with a house we are undoubtedly outgrowing but unable to move out of at present. Truth be told, when we so move, we weren’t sure if we would still want a bookcase especially of the size that would fit here. 

Not a brill photo but I forgot to take a ‘before’ picture!

As I say, as it wasn’t great quality, the books we own had to be stored in the cupboard underneath. Without this, I knew we had no where to store them. 
Looking over the bookcase, I asked my husband how feasible it would be to take the top part off to leave the more solid cupboard below. Half an hour later, Simon was there, hammer in hand prising the top away. 

Ok, so there may be a few marks on the top where the shelves rested. I may not have done the hard work to make this change but I am proud with how it’s turned out. It has transformed a corner of our home and the cabinet has been transformed in itself.  I could have so easily given it all away for firewood and shopped for another bookcase. Instead, I have saved money we didn’t need to spend buying a piece of furniture that may have become obsolete in another house. 
I hope you like the first project as much as I do. Have you got an unloved piece of furniture at home you could transform or have transformed? 
Until next time, 
Toni xx 

Setting myself a creative challenge….

If you have visited my Facebook page over the last few days, you will have seen me shouting from the rooftops about the wonderful new furniture I have purchased over the weekend.  Relieved of children for a few hours, the other half and I visited the Nichols Building in nearby Shalesmoor. 
Full of antiques, vintage items as well as craft stalls and workshops, there is always something to look at and covet.  I had visited the building in the past to attend a sewing course but I was so excited to show Simon around a place I loved so much.  As soon as we saw the sideboard and cabinet we fell in love.  When we saw the price tag we just knew we couldn’t walk out without them.

If you’ve already seen these then I apologise….well not really.  How can I apologise for wanting to show this beauty off?! 
Can’t wait to decorate the top of this with our own belongings.

When we came home (after a delicious lunch in the cafe) we were on a high and we both agreed….part of that was from knowing we had found preloved furniture that told its own story.  This got me thinking.
I don’t know about you but for so long, I have been guilty of coveting and buying ‘brand new’.  If I want or need something, I find it and buy it and with the help of phone apps and easy access to a computer, I can purchase it instantly.  After my experience this weekend I realise that there is a big difference between this kind of buying and purchasing upcycled vintage items.  To buy handmade, lovingly restored or upcycled items is so much more satisfying for me.  
For a long time I have often thought that I often overlook the skills that I have (for those of you who have read the blog before will know I have an ongoing struggle with that annoying critical voice in my head!) Saying that, I have had enough.  I will do that no more! I have decided to set myself a challenge.  From tomorrow, I will think twice before clicking that button.  Instead, I am going to think twice and see if I can upcycle, or indeed make it myself.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I will be chopping off piano legs and repurposing a baby grand to make some shelves for my bedroom…. Instead I am going to start small and see where it takes me.  With sites like  Pinterest there is no excuse for not being inspired to create or upcycle.  If you have never experienced this site, there is nothing you can’t find – including LOADS of tutorials and organisational hints and tips.

The thing is I have a variety of crafty bits and being a bit of a hoarder (who knows when that broken, dusty stash of jewelry will come in handy…) I am sure that a lot of the time, I have the resources to make things instead of falling into old habits and spending money.

So, no more idle talk, there’s my challenge.  The easy things will be making birthday cards and wrapping paper thanks to my stash of stamps and papers but this is a challenge.  I already have my eye on a tutorial for fabric covered storage boxes and these drawer organisers made from cereal boxes and pretty paper for my new drawers. 🙂 

Wish me luck – I will be posting about my progress in the future, no doubt showing you my successes and, I imagine, a few disasters along the way.  I hope that some of you will join me, or be inspired along the way.  I would love to hear your stories if you are already doing this: about your favourite make, the upcycle project most admired by others and any other stories you wish to share along the way.

Until next time….

Toni xx

New year thoughts

So… is your New Year going? Every New Year is filled with hope for new beginnings and changes. Isn’t it? Ok, maybe I feel like that for a few days after the New Year. 

Halfway through the first month and instead I’m feeling restless and reflective. Before Christmas, redundancies were announced at work and this has made me reflect on many things. I am ready for change but find myself a bit afraid to make it I admit! 
Over the last few weeks I have been discussing the future with many people. I have also been talking to a few people around me who have decided to bite the bullet and make positive, life changing decisions. During these conversations I’ve often found myself talking while another part of my brain has been whispering “are you listening to your own words? You should follow your own advice” 
Today I have woken up feeling particularly pensive and have found myself wondering why it seems so easy to support other people.  I find it easier to highlight the strengths in others but can’t find those kind words for myself.  I look at  these individuals and admire their courage. While I am with them I quietly think maybe I could do the same; take the risk and leap of faith yet in the cold light of day my logic presents me with many reasons why I shouldn’t. 
You see – life has become a routine. I know each month our bills will be paid and a roof will be over our heads. I know what to expect and while there are no challenges, there aren’t any nasty surprises either.  Maybe that’s why I crave creativity again. I love the challenge of translating ideas from my mind to make them a reality.  

One of my latest creations – I love it when the reality turns out even better than my imagination. 

What I have realised is that I don’t want to pass this on to my children. My wish for them is to run towards adventure, to know that they are always enough and to instill in them a deep knowing and trust that whatever they face in life they can survive, that the universe will provide for them whatever happens. I want them to love themselves and talk to themselves as if they are their own best friend.  I hope that my nurturing those skills in my daughters, I can slowly nurture them in me too. 

What is your wish for your children/family and for 2014?
‘Til next time, 
Love Toni xx 

Such a perfectionist….

I really wish I wasn’t a perfectionist.  There have been many times that I have tried to change, many times I’ve had to force myself to walk away from things before it drove me crazy.  I am saddened to say however, that every attempt I have made to be happy and accepting of imperfection have failed.

Actually that is not exactly true.  In my children, I love their imperfection.  I revel in the mistakes they make as they learn and grow up but I cannot give myself the same courtesy.  Is it just me?

There are many things about myself that are not perfect, things I cannot hide or cover over and it is these imperfections I think that force me to strive for perfect in every single thing I do.  On the good days, I can laugh about by crazy behaviour.  On the not so good days, it drives me insane and coupled with my lack of patience just ask my husband I am a joy to be around 😉

As I try to take a few tentative steps once again on my creative journey I find this characteristic is playing on my mind.  Because the christmas period brought the unexpected success of my wreath, I have suddenly rediscovered my inspiration.  Only problem is, I want the ideas in my head to translate exactly…and perfectly to my materials.  Sometimes I get lucky.  Other times I want to scream in frustration.  (Don’t get me started on the time I decided to make a bag.  The phrase blood, sweat and tears was literally true in that case!)

Take tonight, I have an idea for a wall hanging for boys.  The image in my head is vibrant, detailed but most of all perfect.  That means no wrinkles or flaws of any kind.  Needless to say this was not what I encountered.  The more I fiddled with the fabric, the more wrinkles appeared. I noticed every lump or bump and want to throw it away never to think of it again. Yes other people may do a practice run but I am under the disillusion that I do not need a practice run or a prototype.

The thing is I really want to – and need to – get over this.  If I don’t I know I am going to end up giving up on this venture and that is something I am not prepared to do.  Creativity is my escape – when I am creating, I have more energy, I am happier and more content.  
So even though it does not meet my standards of perfection, I am going to work on it. If it works out then that’s fabulous.  If it doesn’t then it’s back to the drawing board.  There are times I wish I wasn’t a perfectionist.  Then there are times when I think without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today so maybe it’s a necessary evil for now.  

What do you struggle with every day? How have you learned to embrace the less positive characteristics you possess?

Love Toni xx